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Factor Substitution in U.S. Manufacturing: Does Plant Size Matter?

  • Nguyen, Sang V
  • Streitwieser, Mary L

We use micro data for 10,412 U.S. manufacturing plants to estimate the degrees of factor substitution by industry and by plant size. We find that (1) capital, labor, energy and materials are substitutes in production, and (2) the degrees of substitution among inputs are quite similar across plant sizes in a majority of industries. Two important applications of these findings are that (1) small plants are typically as flexible as large plants in factor substitution; consequently, economic policies such as energy conservation policies that result in rising energy prices would not cause negative effects on either large or small U.S. manufacturing plants; and (2) since energy and capital are found to be substitutes, the 1973 energy crisis is unlikely to be a significant factor contributing to the post 1973 productivity slowdown. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Small Business Economics.

Volume (Year): 12 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 41-57

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Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:12:y:1999:i:1:p:41-57
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